Monday, January 24, 2011


Alexandr Dolgopolov is going to be a top ten player. Maybe even top five. And it is going to happen soon.

Robin Soderling did not know what hit him when he walked out on Rod Laver Arena. At first, I'm pretty sure he thought it was fat nothing, when he walked all over his opponent 6-1 in the first set. And even when he was broken in the second set - hell, even when he lost the second set - I'm pretty sure he was still feeling all right.

We were all applauding. 'Wow, Sasha got a set!' we cheered. 'A set from Soderling! He really is going to be something special one of these days!'

But Sasha was not content with 'one of these days'. No, Sasha wanted today.

And that is what he got.

When Soderling lost the third set... he knew he was in a match. And even after Soderling won the fourth set, and when he went up a break in the fifth... this was somehow Sasha's match. After he won the third set, there was not a moment in this match when Dolgopolov was going to lose.

Andy Roddick called him 'aggressive to the point of psychosis'. Sasha Dolgopolov has all the shots. He can rip winners from anywhere in the court - like, ANYWHERE, in that manner that only Federer and Nadal can do on a consistent basis. I can see how, on an off day, it could all go horribly wrong, and I suppose that's why he isn't higher ranked right at this second, but (first set aside), it was all going right for Sasha against Soderling. And if he can play like this on a consistent level, it is hard to imagine too many people who could stop him.

He has a huge forehand. He has a scintillating backhand. He can volley and slice and has a nice serve too. He can hit with spin, he can hit flat. I saw his match against Becker the other day live and after his match against Soderling, I haven't seen a shot he can't hit and hit with panache.

He plays the type of tennis which is most watchable when it's on and agonisingly painful when it's off. His mission, should he choose to accept it, is to make sure he can keep his level up week in, week out. Because if he can play like he played against Soderling all the time, he will be into the top ten with a rocket.

In other news, Nadal seems to have recovered from his illness woes - he really played a good match against Cilic, who couldn't really hurt him too much. Murray absolutely mauled Melzer in a terrifying way - that will be a really tough match for Sasha next. And a Murray/Nadal semi - that could be an absolute cracker. (Or totally anticlimactic, depending on how well both dudes play.)

In the ladies, the Kim Clijsters train rolls on - she put out Ekaterina Makarova, whom I really liked the look of and hope we see more of in the future. Vera Zvonareva continued to slice through the draw quietly (hot knife, butter, etc) and Agnieszka Radwanska had a very good win as well and Petra Kvitova is looking very nice as well...

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